Barcelona is worldschooling-friendly for families interested in art, history, architecture, and especially food!
From gorgeous, straight-from-your-dreams architecture to world-class art museums and an internationally celebrated food scene, Barcelona is perfect for a day stopover or a months-long home base for nomadic homeschoolers.
Here’s a lowdown of worldschooling options in Barcelona, as well as what to see, do, and learn in this amazing city.
First and foremost, let’s talk about your educational options when worldschooling Barcelona.
For those of you just passing through (like us) homeschooling is likely the best option.
However, if you’re planning to stay for a year or more, there are some things you should be aware of.
Homeschooling is kind of a weird issue in Spain.
While there is technically no ban on it, if you’re a permanent resident, you are required to send your child to school.
However, most worldschoolers are not on permanent resident cards, and at least for now, homeschooling is both popular and (it seems) tolerated by the Spanish government among ex-pats.
Getting into a public school as an immigrant in Barcelona is complicated but possible. Even if you get in, it is not free for international students unless they are citizens of the EU (but if you are from an EU member nation, it may be an option for you).
Of course, private school is the most expensive option. However, if you can afford it, it certainly saves you some hassle.
There are many options available, both for English language students and Spanish speakers (or native English speakers hoping to learn Spanish).
Here is a list of established private schools in Barcelona.
We only used the subway once to go to Monserrat.
It’s kind of pricey, and we found it to be best for day trips. Ridesharing seemed much better for getting around the city.
Honestly, if you’re good with buses, go for it.
I found the bus system to be confusing. Often, stops are frequently closed due to protests and I found it difficult to navigate even under ideal circumstances.
Your mileage may vary.
Taxis & Ridesharing
We mostly used the ridesharing services, which we found to be relatively cheap & convenient in Barcelona.
It’s worth finding out which ridesharing service is best in any given city, because they’re all different, and sometimes, regional. I listed them in order of best/cheapest option to least convenient/most expensive.
Cabify is by far the cheapest and most ubiquitous ridesharing service in Barcelona. For us, they usually had the best fares and assigned drivers the quickest.
If you’re not familiar, Bolt is basically the European answer to Uber. It works very similarly, and once you set it up, it’s useful all over Europe.
Uber is available in Barcelona. Of all the ridesharing services, it was the least useful to us. (Long wait times, high bidding, ect).
City cabs are generally overpriced due to the licensing fees. However, contrary to popular belief, the drivers are generally honest. Just make sure the meter is turned on while you’re riding.
I mean, the laundry & the groceries. Always.
If you’re not used to traveling in Europe, you will discover quickly that while many apartments have washers, far fewer have dryers.
If you can find an apartment with a dryer, it makes life infinitely easier than hang-drying clothes. But if you can’t, here’s a good article that explains the options well.
There are both Lidl & Aldie grocery stores all over the city. We found those to be the most affordable, and that’s where we went mostly.
But if you want to try more local ingredients, there are a lot of markets to explore.
Museums & Art
Barcelona is an art lover’s dream. With multiple world-class exhibits and a heritage of iconic masters like Picasso, it’s an ideal destination for worldschoolers with a passion for teaching kids art history.
Visiting the museums & galleries in Barcelona was my absolute favorite part. However, they are a bit pricy, so I am putting these in order of the ones I would prioritize.
Museum of the History of Catalonia
Before you go to any other museum, I highly recommend visiting The Museum of the History of Catalonia.
The Catalan culture is extremely important to understanding the people & life in Barcelona.
It was expensive, but the littles were free and the older kids got a reduced rate. Here’s where you can find up-to-date pricing.
The Picasso Museum has an extensive collection and is well worth the price of admission. And if you happen to be there on the 1st Sunday of the month, it’s free!
Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya
The Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, houses an extraordinary collection of historical art, with an emphasis on Gothic, Romantic & Baroque.
From swirling art nouveau windows to gothic cathedrals, worldschooling Barcelona is a world-class chance to see the finest in Spanish architecture.
Casa Battlo Gaudi
Barcelona is famous for its breathtaking architecture. Here’s a few places to check out.
Of all the extraordinary architecture in Barcelona, Casa Batllo Gaudi was my favorite. Even if the admission is out of your price range, just take a walk around and marvel at the facade. It’s GORGEOUS.
The Familia Sagrada, or Sagrada Família, is an iconic basilica in Barcelona, Spain, designed by renowned architect Antoni Gaudí. Construction began in 1882 and continues to this day, making it a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Gaudí’s unique architectural style, characterized by organic forms and intricate details, is evident in the basilica’s facade and interior.
The Nativity and Passion facades showcase biblical scenes, while the towering spires and innovative design reflect Gaudí’s deep spiritual and natural inspirations. The Sagrada Família is a symbol of Barcelona, attracting millions of visitors annually who marvel at its ongoing construction and artistic brilliance.
The Barcelona Cathedral, officially known as the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, is a Gothic masterpiece situated in the heart of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter. Construction began in the 13th century, and the cathedral was completed in the 15th century.
Dedicated to Saint Eulalia, the patron saint of Barcelona, the cathedral features stunning Gothic architecture, intricate sculptures, and a beautiful cloister. Visitors can explore the chapels, admire the Gothic arches, and climb to the rooftop for panoramic views of the city. The cathedral stands as a testament to Barcelona’s rich history and is a prominent landmark in Catalonia.
Take a walk on Carrer d’Avinyó
The streets of the Gothic Quarter are teeming with local vendors, food stalls, and art galleries. Of the many backstreets and alleys, my favorite was Carrer d’Avinyó.
If you’re looking for a particular address to put into your GPS, check out Base Elements. It’s an art gallery, but not at all stuffy. There are several interactive pieces, and the owner is super kid-friendly.
Mossen Costa I llobera
The gardens at Mossèn Costa i Llobera are a peaceful, meditative reprieve from the chaos of the city and a good way to get in a little time with nature.
Go for the cable car ride alone! It’s a picturesque way to experience a panoramic view of Barcelona.
Day Trip to Montserrat
“Go see Montserrat!” This was my very first piece of advice from a local on the plane ride over, and she was totally right! It was my husband’s very favorite part of our whole trip.
Montserrat is about an hour and a half train ride from downtown Barcelona. You take a cable car to the top of a mountain where there is a monastery, an amazing museum, and an incredible view.
Take a walk around Port Velle
Take a walk around the waterfront area of Port Velle.
If you’re not up for a ride on the Ferris wheel, the food stalls are a great place to sample local treats.
Many worlds collide in Barcelona, which is great for cultural experience. Here’s a few things to check out there.
Catalan Castell (Human Towers)
If you get a chance, go see the jaw-dropping castellers of Barcelona. I’d explain, but it’s much easier to just show you.
Barcelona isn’t especially known for its flamenco dancing. There are other regions much better known for this popular Spanish art form.
But it’s still Spain, and there are plenty of flamenco shows to see.
If Barcelona is your only stop in Spain, it’s worth it, especially if you have a dance aficionado in your worldschooling troupe.
Getting your kids to try new foods while abroad is a challenge, but a crucial part of experiencing any culture.
Both the restaurants and the street food are excellent in Barcelona. In addition to Spanish classics like the empanada, there are many Catalan specialties you simply must try. Here’s a list of the most common foods to try in Barcelona:
Paella: A classic Spanish dish, paella is a saffron-infused rice dish cooked with a variety of ingredients such as seafood, chicken, rabbit, and vegetables.
Tapas: Barcelona is famous for its tapas bars. Try a variety of small, flavorful dishes like patatas bravas (fried potatoes with spicy tomato sauce), gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp), and jamón ibérico (cured ham).
Calçots: If you visit during the calçot season (typically January to April), don’t miss the opportunity to try these sweet spring onions, often grilled and served with romesco sauce.
Escudella i Carn d’Olla: A hearty Catalan stew made with a variety of meats and sausages, usually served with vegetables and a side of rice or pasta.
Fideuà: Similar to paella but made with short noodles instead of rice. It often includes seafood and is flavored with garlic and paprika.
Crema Catalana: A traditional Catalan dessert similar to crème brûlée, featuring a creamy custard base with a caramelized sugar top.
Churros con Chocolate: Enjoy these fried dough pastries, often served with a cup of thick, rich hot chocolate for dipping.
Cava: Catalonia is known for its sparkling wine, cava. Enjoy a glass or two of this refreshing beverage, often served with tapas.
Botifarra: A Catalan sausage made with pork, often grilled and served with white beans or other accompaniments.
Xató: A traditional Catalan salad featuring endive, salted cod, tuna, and a romesco sauce made with almonds and peppers.
Greetings and Politeness
Greet people with a handshake and a warm smile. In more casual settings, a kiss on both cheeks may be common among friends and acquaintances.
Use formal titles like “Senor” and “Senora” unless you’re invited to use first names.
Lunch is typically the largest meal of the day, and dinner is eaten later in the evening.
It’s common to linger over meals, enjoying the food and company. Rushing through a meal may be considered impolite.
When finished with a meal, place your utensils together on your plate with the prongs facing down and parallel.
While many locals speak Spanish, Catalan is the official language in Catalonia. It’s appreciated if you learn a few basic phrases in Catalan or at least acknowledge the distinction.
English is widely spoken in tourist areas, but an attempt to speak Spanish or Catalan is often appreciated.
Barcelona is a stylish city, and people generally dress well. If you plan to visit churches or religious sites, ensure your clothing is modest and covers shoulders and knees.
Tipping is customary, and it’s common to leave around 5-10% of the bill. However, we found that service was often included, so check your bill.
While the traditional afternoon siesta is less common in urban areas, be aware that some smaller shops and businesses may close for a short break in the afternoon.
This one is important! Catalonia has a distinct identity, and some locals may identify more strongly with being Catalan than Spanish. Be respectful of the region’s cultural identity and history.
Avoid loud conversations, especially in public transportation and other quiet settings.
Be cautious about discussing sensitive political topics, as Catalonia has a complex political history.
Haggling is not common in mainstream stores, but it might be acceptable in smaller markets.
Maintain a quiet and respectful demeanor on public transportation. Giving up your seat for elderly or pregnant individuals is a courteous gesture. (I mean, duh).
But also, people will generally give their seats for you if they see you struggling with littles. Do not decline this gesture.
Barcelona Vocabulary for Kids
Recently, I started covering some destination-specific vocabulary with my worldschoolers as a way to get ready for our international trips. Encouraging them to memorize just a few words makes a huge difference in what they retain about the experience. Here’s some words to cover before you get to Barcelona:
Catalan: The official language of Catalonia. The promotion and preservation of the Catalan language are integral to the region’s cultural identity and are reflected in literature, signage, and daily communication.
Castells: Traditional Catalan human towers built during festivals and celebrations. This cultural practice symbolizes teamwork, strength, and community spirit, reflecting a unique aspect of Catalan identity.
Festa Major: Traditional Catalan festivals celebrated throughout the year, featuring parades, music, dancing, and various cultural events. These festivals highlight the lively and festive nature of Catalan culture and are integral to the local way of life.
Mosaic: The use of colorful mosaics, a characteristic feature of Catalan modernism, can be seen in various architectural elements and public spaces throughout Barcelona.
Pablo Picasso: A renowned Spanish painter and sculptor who is widely regarded as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.
Raval: A diverse and dynamic neighborhood in Barcelona, known for its multicultural atmosphere, contemporary art scene, and trendy bars. Raval reflects the city’s evolving identity and its embrace of cultural diversity.
Street Art: The city’s vibrant streets are adorned with various forms of public art, including murals, graffiti, and sculptures, reflecting the contemporary artistic expression in Barcelona.